CHARLOTTE – Scouts across the league were drawn to LSU cornerback for the same reason: elite speed.
Everyone had heard about it or seen it on tape. When Panthers college scout Jeff Beathard went to Baton Rouge and saw it in person, he knew the junior corner would be someone worth keeping a close eye on throughout the draft process.
“Once I left LSU it was like, ‘OK, this is the type of athlete that has the NFL skill set to come out early,’” Beathard recalled. “Especially the speed, that’s something we needed to improve in our secondary. We targeted him as someone who could come in and compete to start.
“It’s just rare to find guys that can run like that. There are guys that time well but you don’t always see it on the field. This guy times well and plays fast.”
Jackson cemented his reputation as a speed demon with a 4.32 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, matching the fastest time among all participants.
But his ability to run with NFL receivers was never in doubt.
The questions and concerns stem from his size, or lack thereof, at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds.
Here’s what NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting report: “Lacks desired frame to matchup with NFL size and support the run. Due to his slight frame, teams are sure to test his resolve and durability in run support.”
Beathard, who has been scouting for Carolina since 2008 and currently oversees the southeast, of course had similar questions.
But Jackson answered them.